October is a little unpredictable. I’m not a weather forecaster, but it is reasonable to assume we’ll have some
some sunny weather, frosty weather, and possibly a bit of snow that might decorate the ground some time this month — not necessarily in that order! October is making way for winter weather to begin.
During the month, gardeners are likely cleaning off their gardens and making preparations for this to happen. Equipment too, needs some attention at the turn of the season.
It is time to put away lawnmowers until spring and get out snow removal equipment to clean up driveways and sidewalks. I won’t have any trouble getting my snow shovel started, but what about the snowblowers?
Too often, snowblowers get parked after the last snow in the spring — possibly outdoors — and forgotten until needed in the fall. After all, who knows for sure that the last snow is truly the last in this climate? However, blowers that don’t get spring maintenance are candidates for a slow start or possibly some repairs in the fall.
Instruction manuals recommend taking time in the spring to clean the fins, drain the gasoline from the tank, change the oil, lubricate the piston, run the engine to remove gas from the carburetor and then to store it in a sheltered place. Taking care of these tasks in the spring goes a long way toward a quick start this year.
Before storing them for the winter, some maintenance is in order for small engines on lawnmowers, weed eaters, rototillers, and any other motorized equipment you may have used during the summer months.
It may seem wasteful to empty gasoline out of the tank, but saving it is false economy. Gasoline left in the equipment over the winter evaporates, leaving gummy residues that can plug carburetors. An alternative to draining the tank, is to add one of the on the market that helps to stabilize fuel and prevent formation of gum and varnish deposits in fuel for up to a year.
It is still important to change the oil, clean up the engine, and lubricate the piston. To take care of the piston, put a teaspoon of oil through the spark plug hole and crank the engine a couple of turns.
If your garage won’t hold your tiller or lawn mower and you don’t have a shed, put a plastic tarp over each and tie it on to protect it as much as possible from the elements. The reward will come next spring when you are able to pull the starting rope and the engine roars to life ready to operate.
It may be easy to “start” my snow shovel, but starting myself to use it could be harder. However, some care of hand tools will extend their usefulness.
To reduce rust damage in storage, clean mud and dirt off the metal parts of hoes, shovels, rakes and similar tools. Rub wood handles with linseed oil to protect them from the elements and help reduce slivers later. Hang shovels, hoes, rakes and so forth inside if possible to protect them from exposure to the weather until they are needed again next spring.
Lawn rakes may make several appearances this fall. Leaves on trees don’t suddenly drop, but they do blanket lawns before they finish. Raking will probably be required more than once. Put those leaves on your gardens to compost during the winter months to make the garden ready for spring. Clean the blades of hedge shears and pruning equipment and treat the handles before putting them away for the season.
Proper care of garden equipment will add years to its usefulness and simplify your life next season. A little time spent now is time, effort and money saved next spring.
Tip for the week
If you haven’t already, drain your sprinkling system. Open valves and let the water drain. If possible, blow residual water out using compressed air to avoid broken pipes in the spring.